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McLaren... The Original Anarchist

    Sex Pistols - Anarchy in the U.K.

    Over the past several years, I have become much more interested in karma, fate, destiny and the energy in the universe. I've never been a religious person, but I can definitely say that I am spiritual. I have experienced some strange and unexpected situations lately, so it's possible that I put too much stock into little coincidences.

    Malcolm McLaren with the Sex Pistols, circa 1976
    Photo Credit:

    In any case, I found it a little weird that I had mentioned the entrepreneurial leader of punk, Malcolm McLaren in my post on April 7. I also talked about him in my post about Sex Pistols front man, Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon) back on January 31 (Johnny's birthday). When I heard of McLaren's passing yesterday, I got chills. I know that I am, but a little speck in this big universe, so it would be unbelievably egocentric to think I had something to do with it, but I did find it odd that I had just mentioned him the day before his passing.

    Sex Pistols in the trash

    As if that didn't freak me out enough, I had just featured Vivienne Westwood in my "Happy Birthday" section of this blog because Ms. Westwood turned 69 years old yesterday. As most of you know, McLaren and Westwood were an item in the late 60's through 70’s. Strange that he passed away on her birthday, no? The couple have a son together, Jospeh Corre, who happens to be the founder of my favorite lingerie line, Agent Provocateur.

    McLaren & Westwood, circa 1977

    In 1971, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood opened a shop in London where they sold clothing that they designed for theatrical productions. McLaren met the band the New York Dolls (yep, Buster Poindexter!) in NYC in 1972 and upon returning to London, he started to create costumes for the group.

    New York Dolls
    Photo Credit:

    By 1975, McLaren had renamed the shop SEX, selling a variety of S&M style apparel. Original Sex Pistols bassist, Glen Matlock (later replaced by Sid) worked at the shop and McLaren started to manage the band (called The Strand at the time). When McLaren was introduced to the eccentric John Lydon, he recruited him to be the lead singer of the band and renamed them the Sex Pistols. In 1977, their first single “God Save the Queen” was released. McLaren was arrested after he arranged for the Pistols to perform outside the Houses of Parliament.

    Johnny Rotten

    MaLaren managed other bands such as; Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow and the New York Dolls. Apparently, McLaren was interested in managing the group the Red Hot Chili Peppers and approached lead singer Anthony Kiedis in 1985, but was unimpressed with them after a live set. He proposed to reinvent the band and Kiedis and his mates rejected the offer.

    Adam & the Ants

    Bow Wow Wow

    McLaren also had a solo career in the 80’s and 90’s collaborating with Jeff Beck, Bootsy Collins and even Catherine Deneuve. Then in 2004, his song “About Her,” based on the Zombies hit “She’s Not There” was used by Quentin Tarantino in his cult film, Kill Bill Vol. 2. McLaren was accused of plagiarism for allegedly copying the work of a French musician, but was cleared of the charges.

    McLaren circa 1975 in front of his shop in London

    McLaren spent his later years living with his Korean American girlfriend Young Kim between Paris and New York. Malcolm McLaren died on April 8, 2010 at age 64 of mesothelioma in a clinic in Switzerland.

    UPDATE 4.11.2010 :  The brilliant WendyB kindly sent me this post that she did back in October 2007.  It's chock-full of McLaren info.  She also mentions him here.  What can I say, great minds think alike!  Or, at least they like the same music!!  Thanks Wendy... you ROCK!